Mayor Broome: Numbers for St. George budget just 'don't add up'

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome spoke out for the first time Friday about the renewed effort to create the City of St. George. She says the numbers in their proposed budget just don't add up.

Organizers with the proposed City of St. George came back swinging in March with a new, improved campaign to form a city splitting away from East Baton Rouge Parish. They say through their attorney, Andrew Murrell, that what started as a proposal for a new school system is now more about better government. In an interview with WAFB in March, Murrell said with St. George's proposed budget "no tax increases" would be necessary to build new schools closer to home.

"It's based on sales tax revenue, occupancy taxes, and tax revenue that's already being generated that would be St. George's," Murrell said.

Under the proposed budget St. George supporters expect to bring in just over $58 million in the first year. With about $33.9 million in projected expenses, they plan to have about a $24.4 million surplus. Broome says that's a bit far fetched.

"At the end of the day, when you look at the numbers, you will find that their cost is certainly underestimated in terms of what it will take to run an effective and efficient city," she said.

St. George organizers say they don't need a "world class budget" to run a city, but opponents pointing to the independent cities of Central, Baker, and Zachary warn taxes must go up to cover the cost of a new government and school district. Broome says the city-parish is working on a campaign of its own to show residents there are more benefits to being a part of EBR Parish. For example, the flood disaster relief money the local government was able to secure in 2016.

"I believe that the data we offer will certainly speak for itself and when people are making a decision and look at the numbers, I believe they will see based on the data, that it is more advantageous to be a part of the city," said Broome.

The mayor-president says you can expect to hear more from her on this soon.

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